Kansas City Chiefs' Laurent Duvernay-Tardif touches his heart as members of the National Assembly applaud him for his Super Bowl victory at the legislature in Quebec City, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Alphonso Davies, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif split Lou Marsh win as top Canadian athlete

Alphonso Davies, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif split Lou Marsh win as top Canadian athlete

TORONTO — Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Bayern Munich left back Alphonso Davies are co-winners of the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s athlete of the year.

It is the third tie in the 82-year history of the award, presented annually by the Toronto Star.

Media members across the country voted on the award Tuesday. Duvernay-Tardif and Davies each received 18 votes with one vote going to one of the other finalists — soccer players Christine Sinclair and Kadeisha Buchanan and Denver Nuggets basketball star Jamal Murray.

The most recent tie was in 1983 with wheelchair athlete Rick Hansen and hockey star Wayne Gretzky.

“I am truly honoured and humbled to have been selected as the co-winner for the 2020 Lou Marsh Trophy,” Davies said in a Soccer Canada release. “Canada welcomed me and my family and I am grateful for the opportunity to realize my dream of being a professional football player and representing Canada on the world stage.

“Congratulations to Laurent Duvernay-Tardif on his selection and for an incredible year and thank you to all of the media who voted for me. In this challenging year, it is nice to know that we were able to make Canadians proud with our accomplishments on and off the field.”

Duvernay-Tardif, a McGill University medical school graduate, won the Super Bowl as a starter with the Chiefs before becoming the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A native of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., Duvernay-Tardif chose to volunteer in a long-term care facility in his home province at the height of the pandemic’s first wave.

The 29-year-old Duvernay-Tardif was one of five athletes recognized as “Sportsperson of the Year: The Activist Athlete” by Sports Illustrated on Sunday.

“When I opted out in July, my goal was to be here, my goal was to help and contribute,” Duvernay-Tardif said Tuesday on a video conference. “I was part of a movement — thousands of people went back into long-term care facilities and hospitals. Retired nurses, doctors … and I took a lot of pride in being part of that.

“And then to get those two major awards in the last 48 hours, it’s really been an amazing feeling, to be honest. Because it kind of justifies your actions and your sacrifice.”

Duvernay-Tardif said it was an honour to share the award with Davies, who he called “the best athlete Canada has ever produced.” He also wants to share the award with the health care workers battling COVID-19 outside the spotlight.

“I think it’s important to acknowledge all the health care workers who have been working really hard on the front line, and I’m accepting this award in their name for sure.”

The 20-year-old Davies became the first Canadian to win a Champions League men’s title.

In June, Davies was named Bundesliga rookie of the year in voting by fans, clubs and the media. Kicker magazine, a German sports magazine that focuses mainly on football, included him in its Bundesliga team of the season.

Last week, ESPN ranked Davies as the second-best left fullback in the world, behind Liverpool’s Andy Robertson.

Davies was named the top Canadian male soccer player for 2020 last week.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2020.

The Canadian Press